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Virgin Money reads my blog

I got a phonecall today.

If you missed yesterday's gripping read, go read it now.

So, ja, I got a phonecall today.

Unfortunately, I missed it, because I was in Pick'n'Pay getting lunch, but I got the voicemail afterwards:

Jonathan, this is (somebody) from Virgin Money, I've just been reading your blog, and I'm slightly embarrassed. Somebody will phone you this afternoon to sort it out and have your card delivered to you in Cape Town in the not too distant future. Have a good afternoon.
I would have really liked to talk to her (and find out why she'd been reading my blog).

Anyway, I just got another phonecall from Ntsoaki at Virgin Money, who was great, and she's going to reel the UTI people in and put a redirect order on the card, so that it actually gets to me this time. Unfortunately, I'm going to need my ID card to take possession of the credit card, and as I mentioned earlier, I lost it. I need an affidavit from Mr Policeman saying it's lost before I can use my passport or driver's license. So that's another mission to make.


There's a type of wasp called Sphex, or "the Digger Wasp", who lay their eggs in burrows in the ground. They then sting other insects, paralysing them, and leave the insects in the burrows, for the larva to feed on when they hatch. However, before they drag the paralysed insect into the nest, they nip back down into the burrow to check the place out, make sure it's all clean and tidy or something, and then go back outside and drag the insect down.

If, while the wasp is inside, inspecting its nest, you move the paralysed insect a few inches away from the hole, the wasp will come back up, have a look around, and see the insect some distance away, and go and fetch it. However, when it gets the insect back to the hole, it has to perform the next step in its pre-programmed dance: it has to go down and inspect the burrow again. If you keep moving the insect away every time it inspects the burrow, it will remain stuck in its preprogrammed loop forever, never noticing that anything is wrong.

We use the Sphex wasp in philosophy as an example of behaviour which seems sensible and rational (it's a good idea to check out the nest before dragging a paralysed insect into it backwards), but turns out to simply be a set of hard-coded rules. One hypothesis is that all human behaviour is like this - it seems rational and it seems like we have free will, but if you alter the parameters enough, it'll turn out that we're just obeying the physical rules of our nervous systems and vastly complex brain.

What's my point? The good people at UTI have a set of rules which they follow, which makes the whole system run smoothly, and it seems to be a pretty clever way of doing things. But if you break the system slightly, alter the parameters, and do something unexpected, the whole system gets stuck in a loop. In a way, I rather wish I hadn't told the Internet that they were stuck, and just let them run until the world wound down. Just to see, you know?

Update: Here's the end of the story.